Two very contrasting experiences this morning. Two or three doors down there must have had an argument, because there were a series of messages written in coloured chalks on the pavement leading around the corner to the high street. Part apology, part skit, part relationship warrant, it ended with a plea to meet in the park tonight. If I were Richard Curtis I would have been one of a small crowd of neighbours who hid in the bushes tonight, wrestling the tops off flasks of tea, sharing kendal mint cake and gushing at the nature of modern romance. In my version she’d kick him in the nuts.
I was curious. A very male form of expression. Even down to the correction of a typo. Yet somehow saying more about him than about them. I admired the neatness. Of the writing, if not the execution. I thought about photographing the messages, but for what? To put on Flickr or Facebook? To prove what? I know nothing about their relationship – beyond what was written in chalk – an amuse bouche for commuters. And as drama – well – how will I know how it ends? Will they do me (and others) the courtesy of updating us tomorrow?
It also made me think of who could be absorbing the message, both literally – on their feet – and in their throughs on the way to work. Of who they might bump into while they were reading the message. What that might touch. And getting pink chalk on this season’s must-have shoes. To clarify, I don’t have this season’s must-have shoes, but then I don’t have any pink chalk either.
Around the corner I was walking behind the bag lady. The one I usually see when I’m running at 6am – last time, chillingly, screaming ‘peekabo’ at the top of her voice (I assume she has tourette’s). She has plastic bags tied around her feet – blue ones, matching, unlike most other things about her – her ankles are exposed and she has the swollen, puce, feet of someone who shouldn’t walk much, let alone spend their time shuffling up and down the road between London and Bath. She was eagerly picking her way through some form of takeaway she had lifted from a bin. I’m unhappy to admit that I felt revulsion. Which bizarrely enough was probably more due to imagining the sensation of cold, sticky, sauce on my fingers than the recycling aspect.
Colleagues at work frequently gather to watch the food recyclers that gather outside our office at 4.20 each day, to claim the leftovers from EAT. I find their continued curiosity a little distasteful. But I watch them. My ‘colleagues’. I guess we’re all part of the human zoo.
I walk past several sets of shoes after I see her. Designer shoes in the only ‘designer’ second-hand shop I’ve ever known. In Fat Face and White Stuff. Pointless shoes. Charity shops that will help people hundreds of miles away from Peekabo Lady.
The last of my ground-level homilies today was an abandoned business card on the steps to the city-bound tube platform. I admired the neat way it stood up on one edge. I liked the sheer unlikeliness of it either being placed in that fashion or discarded while walking up the stairs. I hoped it was serendipity and worried about the very fact I doubted it was chance. Chance is rarely so artistic. Art needs planning. Like chalk on roads. And plastic on feet.
My shoes need resoling. They’re starting to fray. It hurts to walk on the dimples in the pavement put there to help sight-impaired people to find road crossings.
All of which contributes to some ongoing musings on the nature of risk, and the innate conservatism of most people. To how you find crossings. The chance of arriving at a crossing when the little man is green. And the chance that people are forgiven.